Rather than closing entire elementary schools (as recently dictated in several locations in the Phoenix metropolitan area), over a very few confirmed cases of a successively mild form of flu; we might have turned to informed disease specialists. Instead, our mass media sold panic to the bored denizens of TV land. If the notion had been to close shopping malls and churches, perhaps a more educated response would have emerged sooner. Something like that which follows, has been overdue.

From Wendy Orent in the LA Times last WED 29 April, finally a thoughtful analysis of “Swine Flu” (H1N1 derivative of the Spanish Flu of 1918). And after all the fear-mongering of the past several weeks by our local newspaper the AZ Republic, it’s bloody well time:

Influenzas that have their origins in huge, crowded animal farms are often more virulent than other flu strains. Germs that kill their hosts quickly tend not to thrive; their hosts die before there is time to pass the virus on. But on crowded farms, the next snout is an inch away, and even virulent strains can gain a foothold. It is the same type of conditions that produced deadly avian influenza in giant poultry farms in Asia over the last 10 years.

Natural selection theory also tells us that whatever we will face, it won’t be another 1918. As [evolutionary biologist Paul W.] Ewald has argued for years, only packed conditions allowing deathly sick hosts to pass disease repeatedly to the well can produce highly virulent strains of flu — for animals or for people. The usual sort of human crowding will not do it. Even massive, densely populated Mexico City, with more than 20 million inhabitants, won’t produce the kind of lethal strains that the Western Front did in World War I. People died in Mexico because they were close to the epicenter of the disease, to the probable emergence of lethal strains from crowded pig breeding. But natural selection’s corrective action is swift and predictable: The strains spreading across the world are milder.

For the entire article, please see: “Swine Flu poses a risk, but no need to panic“.

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